Friday, November 25, 2011

The Unwritten #31.5

Written by Mike Carey
Art by Michael Wm. Kaluta, Rick Geary, and Bryan Talbot

The Unwritten is being published on a bi-weekly basis for the next few months, with every second issue being given a '.5' number.  The purpose of this is to tell some of the stories of The Cabal (apparently called The Unwritten Cabal, as we have learned in this issue), and their mainstay Pullman.

This issue has three stories, each illustrated by a terrific guest artist.  Mike Kaluta takes us to China in 221BC, when an emperor has demanded the burning of books and scrolls that may 'confuse thought'.  It seems that it is Pullman who is tasked with carrying out the inspections of schools and monasteries, and we learn that the man hasn't changed much in the last two thousand years.

Rick Geary draws a story about Homer Davenport, a cartoonist for William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal set in 1881.  Davenport's story is reminiscent of the Rudyard Kipling issue of this series a couple of years ago, as he has been co-opted by the Cabal.  He's thinking of exposing them through his art (which he believes is largely responsible for America declaring war on Spain, but is dissuaded from this course of action.  I love Geary's art, which is perfectly suited for the conversation he draws here.

Finally, the issue ends with Bryan Talbot showing a confrontation between Gutenberg, the man who invented the printing press, and an agent of the Cabal in 1462.  At the heart of their dispute?  The fact that cheap, affordable books will encourage people to learn to read.  This turns out to be a real watershed moment for the Cabal, as they realise that they have to embrace the new technology instead of oppose it.

This is a very cool issue of this comic.  I would like to see some longer stories in these .5 issues, but I am happy with the direction that this book is going in.  Originally, it felt like a bit of a cash grab on Vertigo's part (similar to Marvel's recent policy of double-shipping titles all the time), but I can see how it's going to enhance the stories in this series.

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